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Brendon Watkins
|Partner

Brendon joined Minter Ellison as a partner in 2000 after nine years as a partner at Dunhill Madden Butler. He has over 26 years experience in advising clients on all aspects of insolvency (reconstructions, work-outs and formal appointments), securities enforcement, risk management, banking and finance litigation and general commercial disputes.

He is recognised as a leader in his field in independent publications such as the Legal Who's Who of Australia (nominated by peers in the profession), the AFR's Best Lawyers List for Australia (each edition from 2008 to 2011)(again, nominated by peers in the profession), recognised as a Tier 1 lawyer in the Australian's List of Best Lawyers for 2011, Chambers Global (2006 to 2011 editions), the Asia Pacific Legal 500 Guide (2005 to 2011 editions), IFLR1000 Guide (2009 to 2012 editions), Asianlaw Leading Lawyers (2010) and the Guide to the World's Leading Insolvency & Restructuring Lawyers (2009 & 2010 editions).

Brendon's major clients include ANZ, Westpac, CBA, PPB, McGrathNicol, KordaMentha, Ferrier Hodgson, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Deloitte. He is the firm's national client relationship partner for ANZ.

Brendon is the lead partner advising the receivers and managers of the Great Southern Group, the largest receivership in Australia in 2009/2010. He also acts for the club banks advising on their exposure to the Great Southern Group, and has recently been retained to advise the receivers and managers appointed to Burrup Fertilisers.

Brendon acted as lead partner for a major Australian bank in connection with the Opes administration, advising on the bank's exposure under securities lending agreements and acting for the bank defending several claims instituted by investors. The Opes administration was the largest insolvency matter in Australia in 2008/2009.

Brendon is currently advising a major Australian bank on its exposure to Lehman Brothers, a major Australian bank on its exposure to Timbercorp, and has recently acted for a major Australian bank on its exposures to the Oz Minerals Group and Elders.

Brendon continues to act for the liquidators of eight of the mezzanine finance companies within the Westpoint Group, which was the largest profile insolvency matter of 2006. He recently acted for the manager of several property trusts holding approximately 50% of the child care centres leased to ABC Learning, and in 2007 acted for a group of US noteholders seeking a recapitalisation of the Sons of Gwalia administration.

In 2005, Brendon acted for the directors and administrators of the ION group of companies, and from 2003 to 2005 Brendon acted for the receivers and managers of Western Metals Limited (then Australia's fourth largest mining company), having previously advised US noteholders in debt restructure negotiations.

Earlier engagements include acting for the receivers and managers of Centaur Mining & Exploration Limited and in other large scale insolvencies including Pasminco Mining and Ansett Australia.

He has advised a major bank on credit risks associated with two A$5 billion round robin facilities, and another major bank advising on default triggers in a $1 billion facility, following part nationalisation of a European guarantor bank in response to the recent credit crunch.

In terms of litigation, and in addition to defending claims in the Opes administration, Brendon has recently acted for the non executive directors in Harris Scarfe defending an insolvent trading claim for A$140 million, and for receivers and managers defending proceedings for wrongful appointment and conversion of assets totalling approximately A$20 million.

Brendon has presented conference papers and seminars on numerous topics including voluntary administration, voidable transactions, duties of directors, securities enforcement, third party cheques, retention of title clauses, invoice finance, shadow directorships, duties under s420A of the Corporations Act, pooling, dealing with pre-receivership contracts, the Government's proposed reform to Australia's insolvency trading laws and most recently, lending and credit issues when dealing with managed investment schemes.

Qualifications

  • BEc, LLB

Admissions

  • VIC
  • NSW
  • High Court

Awards and Recognition

  • Leading Individual, Insolvency and Reconstruction - Chambers Asia Pacific: 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013

    Well-respected partner Brendon Watkins is described by sources as 'an extremely competent operator, a good thinker with a very can-do attitude. He doesn't get bogged down if the law is contradictory. He's sensible and doesn't put up roadblocks.' He acted for the receivers and managers of Burrup Fertilisers, in relation to a secured creditor's exposure valued in excess of AUD900 million - Chambers Asia Pacific 2013

    Respected for his 'knowledge and passion', Brendon Watkins 'provides clear, concise advice that is both practical and of a high technical standard.' He is noted for his 'attention to detail and ability to break down extremely complex legal matters to provide clients with well-researched and thorough advice.' Clients comment that 'he is the sort of guy who you bring in when you need a heavy hitter' - Chambers Asia Pacific 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011
     
  • Leading Individual, Insolvency and Reconstruction - Chambers Global: 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012
  • Leading Lawyer, Restructuring & insolvency - International Financial Law Review 1000: 2007/08, 2008/09, 2009/10, 2010/11, 2011/12, 2013, 2014 

    Melbourne based star partner Brendon Watkins, 'is always focused on the best commercial outcome for us', says a client who also praises the firm's depth. 'Brendan is well-supported by a talented team of senior associates and associates. I trust him to deliver the best outcome.' One peer futher notes that Brendon 'is a really good lawyer, and I enjoy working with him' - International Financial Law Review 1000: 2010/11, 2011/12
  • Leading Individual, Insolvency and Reconstruction - Legal 500 Asia Pacific: 2007/08, 2008/09, 2009/10, 2010/11, 2011/12, 2013, 2014

    Brendon Watkins is praised for his ‘technical skills and commercial acumen’ - Legal 500 Asia Pacific 2014

    Brendon Watkins ranks ‘among the key restructuring and insolvency advisors within Australia’ - Legal 500 Asia Pacific 2010/11
  • Recognised, Insolvency and Reconstruction - PLC Which Lawyer?: 2009, 2010
  • Recommended, Insolvency and Reorganisation - Best Lawyers: 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013
  • Recommended, Distressed Investing and Debt Trading - Best Lawyers: 2013
2014